Having somewhat surprisingly stepped in to buy Tower Works on Water Lane, Yorkshire Forward have now shortlisted 6 developers and their teams to submit proposals for a new scheme which must have at it?s heart the principles of sustainability and high quality exemplary design. This landmark site, which features the famous Italianate towers, looks set to have an exciting future with the emphasis being on mixed uses to include education, offices, residential, high quality public realm, and active ground floors. Watch this space!
Having taken a silly bet in March from Kevin Linfoot, Jonathan Morgan, Simon Gawthorpe from Urban Splash, and Kim Mead from KW Linfoot, climbed the 120 metre tower crane at Bridgewater Place on July 2nd. Having been through two health and safety briefings and issued with helmet, overalls and gloves, it was somewhat ironic to see that they were un-harnessed, climbing up an open sided tower.
Says Jonathan: ?Not content with taking us for a walk along the jib, our friendly crane driver then offered us all ?a drive?. Joking aside, it was an amazing experience and our feat ensured that Kevin will now pay for the Barnardos Children’s Party at Harewood House in November.?
The darlings of the world of urban regeneration are finally coming to Leeds. The submission of their planning application to redevelop two derelict council buildings on the Saxton Garden estate on the east of the city centre is sure to create waves. Everywhere they have gone, Urban Splash have worked hard at challenging convention and creating new communities with new heart in areas where mainstream developers are simply not prepared.
The refurbished buildings will uniquely sit in around 4 acres of landscaped grounds which are to include new allotments, and a high parking ratio. Having already almost single handedly changed the fortunes of areas such as Langworthy Park in Salford, the Card Room Estate in New East Manchester and the Castlefield/Hulme areas of Manchester, they have an unwavering determination to stick to their principles of high quality design and it seems certain that they will create a fantastic new living environment at The Drive and Parade in Leeds.
One of the country?s first specialist residential investment funds is being launched right here in Leeds by Armstrong Watson Chartered Accountants. There was widespread dismay when Gordon Brown signalled a dramatic U Turn in his budget this year. Many people had expected regulations to change on ?A day? in order that a more diverse range of investments could be purchased with pension fund monies.
Whilst it was made clear that investment would be allowed through a genuinely diverse vehicle, it was some time before this was clarified. Armstrong Watson have been one of the first to react to the clarified regulations and are working with asset managers, Vista, in creating a bespoke locally focused fund which will offer investors a unique opportunity to enter niche residential markets with the added attraction of tax benefits.
What a fickle year it has been so far- January saw a strong start to the year after a strong last quarter to 2005 and whilst this was very encouraging, it wasn?t sustained, fading away into an unexciting February and March. Since then, sales and rentals have been unpredictable with many people simply deciding to stay put although we do believe that some of this apathy has been shaken off through June, which for us, has been the best month of the year. Debates rage about interest rates, which remained unaltered at the June MPC meeting and whilst there is continued concern that the next change may be a rise, it seems clear that we are likely to be in a low interest rate environment for some time to come.
Key issues for the future of city living seem certain to revolve around facilities and amenities, a strong owner occupier community, and a balance of affordable housing, in order to ensure that those who make up the city?s engine room are able to afford to live near the city core.
There are those who bemoan the over supply of bars and restaurants in Leeds and whilst it may be said that there are too many of them, we would prefer to say that there are too many which are not up to scratch. If Leeds city centre were a human being, then we would like to think that it is perhaps just starting to toddle. The process of maturing to a sure and certain upright stance takes time- we are convinced, however, that the future looks bright.
Take, for example, the opening of Restaurant Bar and Grill in The Old Post Office in City Square- it is the first restaurant to open in Leeds which has the scale and grandeur most readily associated with a Conran eatery. Stunning interior, space and light, a great menu and wine list and, above all, a sense of inherent quality. Another recent arrival, Café Guru at Brewery Wharf, is promising to deliver Indian food in a gourmet style the likes of which Leeds has probably never seen.
And as for other names being bandied about, a City Inns hotel is part of the scheme proposed for Granary Wharf in the canal basin- their outlet in London won Hotel of the Year last year and if their publicity is to be believed, then they will create a very high quality building in a very prominent position. It is also strongly rumoured that Tesco Express are soon to open in the West End, that Sainsbury?s local are close to a deal and it is a fact that Pret a Manger are to open a huge mew landmark store on the corner of Albion Place and Lands Lane.
We have recently launched what we believe is a first- a full scale furnished show apartment in the basement bar at our award winning offices at 1 Dock Street. Furnished in great style by West Park Interiors, the apartment has been designed particularly with owner occupiers in mind. The kitchen and bathroom are exactly as they will be installed in the building proper and the proportions of the rooms are almost exactly representative of the real thing!